This study investigates the relationship between socio-economic status and children’s educational life chances using the peasant farmers of Basawa and Bomo districts of Sabon Gari Local Government Area of Kaduna State as a case study. The study was embarked upon to find out the impact of socio-economic status on children’s educational life chances. Some of the problems of the study area stated in this work are; children’s low school enrolment due to their parents’ low socio-economic status, children’s educational achievement depending on parents’ education, and effects of gender on children’s education. The population of the study are teachers and students in SS1 in Basawa and Bomo districts and target population of 264 students and 48 teachers were sampled. The study which is a correlational study used both quantitative and qualitative instruments such as: self-designed questionnaire, unstructured interview schedule, anecdotal records, and observation. Some of the findings of the study are: children’s school enrollment is determined by parents’ socio-economic status and children’s educational life chances depends on parents’ socio-economic status. Some of the recommendations made in reference to the findings of the study were: Universal Basic Education should implement free education scheme effectively especially in rural areas and urban centres. Teachers should also be supervised concurrently in their service of teaching in schools on how to relate to students without passing biased judgments.
1.1 Background to the Study
Education is one of the most enduring legacies which a nation can bequeath to her succeeding generations. This is because education serves as an illumination through which people see the path to solving their problems. Education generally is accepted as a vital asset for social mobility, economic mobility, and a societal transformation factor, for both personal and national levels. Mahuta (2007) views formal education as the type of education that is taught in schools which is planned and organized with aims and goals that are intended to be achieved. According to Swift (1996), as cited in Mahuta (2007), education is the way the individual acquires the physical, moral and social capacities demanded of him by the group into which he is born and within which he must function. Emile Durkheim (1858-1917), as cited in Mahuta (2007), sees education as, the influence exercised by adult generations on the younger ones that are not yet ready for social life. It can therefore be said that education arouses and develops in an individual certain number of physical, intellectual and moral skills which are demanded of him by both the political society as a whole and his social environment in which he or she lives.
Emile Durkheim as quoted in Haralambos & Heald (1980) maintains that; Society can survive only if there exists among its members a sufficient degree of homogeneity; education perpetuates and reinforces this homogeneity by fixing in the child from the beginning the essential similarities which collective life demands. Durkheim argues that to become attached to the society, the child must feel in it something that is real, alive and powerful, which dominates the person and to which he also owes the best part of himself. (p 173) Education is a sound investment that is expected to enhance the economic growth of individuals which implies that education is a strong factor of social mobility.
This means that education has the ability to influence a person’s future socio-economic status in the society. That is to say, a person who has attained higher level of education is likely to have higher chances of getting a good job which in return determines an individual’s social class in a society. Socio-economic status is a sociological and economical combined total measure of an individual or family’s economic and social position in relation to others, based on income, education and occupation. Socio-economic status is typically broken into three categories; high socio-economic status, middle class socio-economic status, and low socio-economic status to describe the three classes a family or an individual may fall into. When placing a family or individual into one of these categories any or all of the three variables (income, education, and occupation) can be assessed. This class division has implications to the type of school a child attends, the type of education a child receives and the limit of educational attainment of a child. It is therefore very clear that children of higher socio-economic class are better opportune when it comes to attending better schools, colleges and universities. Families with high socio-economic status often have more success in preparing their young children for school because they typically have access to a wide range of resources to promote and support their children’s development. They are able to provide their young children with high quality child care, books and materials to encourage children in various learning activities at home.
Reverse is the case for children from low socio-economic class as socio-economic factor pose a big threat to their educational attainment. Parents are left with no option than to send their children to public schools most of which are today in bad and uncondusive teaching and learning conditions. The children of the poor and illiterate parents or low socio-economic status may not be able to get the opportunity of attending better schools or even proceeding to colleges and tertiary institutions. They
are more likely to encounter problems of inequality in educational opportunities more especially in relation to enrollment, retention and completion. This situation widens the gap between the rich elites and the poor thereby further more fueling social stratification and encouraging educational life chance inequality in our society.
Through social stratification and educational inequality, education despite its importance and human cravings for it appears to be nothing but a mirage. Acquiring education has now become a state of concern for the less privileged families regardless of active measures taken by the Federal Government of Nigeria through the Universal Basic Education Programmes (UBE) which is yet to be fully felt. Low socio-economic background child may stand the chance of dropping out of school due to financial problems reinforced with social stratification and inequality, thereby making educational equality a dream to “have not” of our society. According to Mahuta (2007), family background influences the educational life chances of an individual but the influences or impact of formal education is greater. Thus, education is an important means of social mobility. Mahuta (2007) further maintains that the socio-economic status of the family is a significant variable or factor that affects the educational life chances of a child. This therefore means that, the higher the socio-economic status of a child’s home, the higher his or her educational life chances.
With the poor socio-economic state of our country today, with its dwindling system of education which U.B.E itself could not resurrect, the low socio-economic populace which constitutes the majority of Nigeria’s population are stifled in their endeavor to offer their children good education and better life chances. Based on this background, this study investigates how socio-economic status of a child’s background affects his or her educational life chances in Basawa and Bomo district of Sabon-Gari local government, Zaria of Kaduna State.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
In Nigeria today, educational attainment and achievement is seen as the most influential factor of social mobility. Social mobility offers a chance of socio-economic status upgrade and that chance is what socio-economically challenged parents are willing to secure for their children so that the children will have better chances in life than their parents. However, family socio-economic background, school accessibility and biological factors stand between these children and better educational life chances. But yet, among all these factors, socio-economic factor is the major factor that affects educational life chances. Education is apparently known for its ability to turn tides of socio-economic status of low socio-economic statuses to high or middle class status. Education plays a major role in enabling individuals to gain the required skill sets for acquiring jobs, as well as specific qualities that stratify people with high socio-economic status from low socio-economic status such as occupation.
The study areas which are Basawa and Bomo are a semi-urban area occupied by peasant farmers whose majority belonged to the low socio-economic stratum. These people are mostly working on their small pieces of farmland which is mainly for subsistence, and engaging in other laborious works for money to cater for their family’s needs. The poor socio-economic state they live in does not leave their children out of their daily struggle for survival as the children also have their part to play in the survival of the families by giving their parents helping hands either by helping the father with farm work or helping the mother through hawking. The meager amount earned in the families is barely enough for daily welfare upkeep such as feeding, clothing, shelter, and health care which is primary in nature. Children from such families hardly get enrolled in school solely because educational expenses cannot be afforded by their parents. Even when they manage to get enrolled, the children often lack necessary educational support
in form of educational materials and school uniform. Apart from the enrollment problem faced by the children of these districts, their educational life chances are greatly threatened by parent’s educational level. Primary school education may be endured but continuing with secondary school education is another story entirely as these children, aware of their parents’ socio-economic status chose to work in farms for money, hawk, engage in motorcycle transportation business and petty trading over secondary school education. The little money they do earn gradually strays them from pursuing education and diminishes from their mind the possibility of the good education can offer, how education can move them up the social ladder and better life chances.